Smoke rises on Tuesday morning from the site of a baled cardboard fire that broke out late Monday night at the McKinley Paper Company on Marine Drive in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Smoke rises on Tuesday morning from the site of a baled cardboard fire that broke out late Monday night at the McKinley Paper Company on Marine Drive in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

No injuries following fire at McKinley paper mill

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Fire Department responded to a fire at the McKinley Paper Company mill in the 1900 block of Marine Drive.

Firefighters were dispatched at 9:25 p.m. Monday to an area between the lagoon and the mill where 15 refrigerator-sized bales of cardboard were on fire, according to a Port Angeles Fire Department press release.

When firefighters arrived, they worked with McKinley’s fire brigade to attempt extinguish the rapidly growing fire. To limit the fire’s spread, excavators were used to break up the stacks of bales that stood about 10 feet high and to increase the reach and penetration of the fire stream.

Eventually, about 420 cardboard bales weighing about 136,000 pounds were destroyed, according to the press release.

Assistant Chief Joel McKeen said it was a challenging site to work in and the department needed to lay down about 1,000 feet of hose to reach it. The Port Angeles Police Department was contacted to provide traffic control, he said.

The scene was turned over to McKinley at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. It will continue to break up the cardboard bales, extinguish smoldering piles and conduct cleanup. Light smoke from the area will probably be visible for 12 to 24 hours, according to the fire department, which continues to investigate the cause of the fire, McKeen said.

In addition to the McKinley fire brigade, the nine city fire department personnel were assisted by a Clallam County Fire District 2 chief officer and two fire tender crew.

McKinley General Manager Fletcher Austin said the cardboard — old corrugated containers, also known as OCC, which McKinley uses to make paper — was in an outdoor storage area.

There were no injuries and no structures were damaged in the fire, Fletcher said.

“The coordination with the with the fire department was excellent,” Fletcher said. “They were on site and helped us contain the fire quickly.”

The fire did not disrupt operations at the mill, which employs 189 people and operates 24/7, Fletcher said.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached by email at paula.hunt@peninsulanews.us.

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